A farmer inspects a bunch of banana in her farm. Regular weeding ensures all weeds that compete with bananas for nutrients are removed. Photo gallery.
Hitherto, Richard Kebaso used to harvest small bananas of between 40 to 45 kg from his small farm in Nyamache, Kisii County due to poor weeding practices. After receiving farming tips from Kilimo Bora, a farmers group which guides small scale farmers on improving their farming skills; he now anticipates harvesting about two hundred 80- 100 kg bananas from the same farm as better weed management practices have led to flourishing of his banana crops.
Richard who is a small scale farmer joined Kilimo Bora farmers group when it was initiated in February 2017. Kilimo Bora has created a WhatsApp group which shares information on agribusiness and best farming practices among members. The group has incorporated farmers from different regions of the country who send questions on various agricultural issues. As they engage, members receive proper recommendations from experts within the group.
“Since joining Kilimo Bora, I have received proper and timely information on how to manage weeds in my banana farm in addition to getting proper advice on measurements and depth during planting” said Richard. Social media is playing a crucial role in shaping farming practices underlying the effectiveness of instant messaging in communication.
READ ALSO: Irrigation boosts banana yield by 30%
READ ALSO: Minimal banana suckers are more profitable
In March this year, he planted 50 suckers on his farm on a spacing of 3 by 3 meters apart. The dug holes were three by three feet in diameter and five feet deep. The plantlets developed more than 4 small banana plants each. As soon as the weeds appeared, Richard started removing them by digging using a fork and then uprooting them using his hands to avoid disturbing the prominent established suckers. He also removed extra unwanted suckers as bananas grow well when only at least three suckers are left; a flowering, teenager and a young small emerging sucker.
Regular weeding as the weeds appeared helped Richard save on money which could otherwise have been spent on purchasing weed control herbicides. c. In addition to manual weeding, Richard also planted beans between the different rows of bananas so as to reduce the ground cover for weeds.
Bananas are perennial plants and thus harvesting is all year round. Richard plans to sell each banana at between Ksh. 150 to Ksh. 300 in local Kisii markets and nearby towns. Bananas are generally rich in starch, eating them can reduce chances of getting cancer or asthma according to research